Slovenia: Undiscovered Golf Destination
October 30, 2014 - Ljubljana, Slovenia - This year’s IGTM, which took place at the end of October, has heralded a new golf destination in the heart of Europe. The International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) has named Slovenia as the Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year 2015 at the IAGTO Awards Gala Dinner in Villa Erba, Lake Como in Italy.
”Slovenia has been working strategically on the golf product for many years now and a reward like this is a confirmation that our work is paying off,” says Marjan Hribar, Director general General of the Directorate of Tourism, Ministry of the Economy of the Republic of Slovenia. “Slovenia is making a name for itself with every single visitor coming to our country which lies in the heart of Europe, as they are all overwhelmed by what it offers,” adds Hribar.
The Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year Award was announced as part of the influential IAGTO Awards, held at the end of International Golf Travel Market, the golf travel industry’s annual trade show. The award is voted for by more than 160 members of the International Golf Travel Writers Association, which is administered by IAGTO. Tasked with identifying an “undiscovered gem” among the world’s golf destinations, members assess each nomination against criteria as to what extent the destination is “undiscovered”, qualities that make it an interesting golf destination, attractiveness of the region and courses, quality and accessibility of the courses.
Slovenia has 13 golf courses with over 8,000 domestic golfers. The majority of golf courses are accessible within an hour's drive from Ljubljana which is the capital of Slovenia and also lies in the heart of the country itself. Slovenia is green, active and healthy: on golf courses and elsewhere. This makes Slovenia and its 9-hole or 18-hole golf courses more and more popular as a golf destination, attracting golfers from all over the world. In the last 10 years more than 8 official EGA European Amateur Championships, team and individual were held on Slovenian golf courses, proving golfers will find top quality courses to play here.
At the moment the biggest number of foreign golfers are coming from neighbouring countries Italy and Austria, as well as Germany. The last two years has seen a good number of golfers flying in from Scandinavian countries, especially from Finland and Sweden. Golfers from other countries are slowly discovering Slovenia as a golf destination and all of them are saying they are getting more than they expected.
Slovenian golf tradition started after the World War II. Bled golf course was the first golf club for the then Yugoslav king and was built in 1938. This 27-hole golf course with magnificent mountain views and an iconic alpine lake nearby is still one of the most popular in Europe. Many players find the largest Slovenian golf course with 27 holes a real challenge. According to the Golf World Magazine, this alpine resort was ranked in the first half of 2014 Top 100 golf courses in Continental Europe.
The Arboretum Golf Ljubljana course, near Kamnik, is surrounded by pine forest and small lakes. The view of the Kamnik Alps and the Arboretum, with more than 3,500 plant species and one of the richest plant collections in Central Europe, promise an excellent experience. This varied golf course with 18 holes is a challenge even for the most experienced golfers.
Otočec is a charming town in the south of Slovenia, located along the emerald river of Krka. This golf course is one of the most modern and, at over 6,000 metres, is also one of the longest Slovenian 18-hole golf courses. It was designed by Howard Swan, a renowned English golf architect, and a Slovenian Peter Škofic. It meets the highest standards of golf industry. It is located just a stone's throw away from the picturesque Otočec Castle which offers a prestigious boutique hotel and a luxury restaurant which cater even the most demanding guests. The Otočec Golf Course is managed by Terme Krka, which has a rich programme of wellness pleasures right in the middle of the hills of Dolenjska.
Ljubljana can boast the Diners Club Ljubljana course with 18 holes, which is located near the popular Šmarna Gora. This picturesque golf resort with wooden facilities and a great restaurant also offers night golfing. The course held the European Ladies Amateur Championship this year, which was a big success.
The IAGTO award will give the destination a good motivation to further improve the service levels of Slovenia’s golf product and expand the number of fam trips for the IAGTO tour operators so they will have the opportunity to get to know the destination and increase the number of golfers they send there.